Philosophic Review: Introverted Boss

It’s a few weeks late, but here’s a review for Introverted Boss. I was tempted to just give it a picteview, but in honor of what it could have been I want to write a bit about the philosophy behind the show, especially since there was so much that… might have been explored. Introverted Boss gets a 2/5 on story, a wish-it-was 4/5 on characters (really more of a 2/5) and another wish-it-was-4/5 on Philosophy (again, 2/5).

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Story

The story… was a bit all over the place. Technically, it was about an extremely energetic, extroverted young woman who interacts with her incredibly reserved, introverted boss. Furthermore, she believes he is responsible for her older sister’s suicide, and that misconception is not at all helped by the fact he has a reputation for being a terrible, abusive boss (a misunderstanding perpetuated by his quiet, odd nature).

Unfortunately, the wacky, energetic story lost a lot of its spunk after they stopped the show for a regroup. It had pulled in low numbers the first few weeks, but I think the hiatus only stalled the story and diluted the charm of the show. We spent more time on the company politics, and I started my fast-forwarding.

Best Story Moments

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Characters

I’m afraid to say that in the beginning, Introverted Boss had everything working against it: as an office drama, my interest factor went down; the trailers failed to impress and rather weirded me out, actually; and I already had a fairly loaded slate for drama watching.It was the characters, then that grabbed me, and held on to me through the end of the drama (yes I did finish it).

Hwan-Gi: he was the heart and soul of this show. He immediately spoke to me, as someone who gives off wrong impressions myself. I don’t necessarily scare others, but as a real life introvert I often let others build their own interpretation of my personality… which is more often than not false. It’s led to many a painful situation, either correcting wrong assumptions or trying to live up to their expectations, and I was interested to see how he would progress.

Ro-Woon: I had a harder time connecting to: she seemed invasive, rude and unthinking. I grew to love her by the second episode, however, when I realized how much she suffered living in the shadow of her sister (alive, and even more now dead). She suffered in the regrouping though, and while still extroverted and outspoken, she no longer seemed to sparkle (I wonder if the actress lost a bit of heart in the character, actually).

Yi-Soo: This is one character I mourn, not for what she was but for what she could have been. I have never seen such a truly tortured, vulnerable character in a K-drama. It’s rare enough for a character to admit to mental weakness or illness, and I have never seen the subject of self-harm raised so seriously. And yet, in the end, it was entirely resolved: she even ended up with the same man she had been unhealthily obsessed with all series. I think she could have been so much more, and I’m sad the show didn’t give her the attention she deserved.

Woo-Il: As a foil for Hwan-Gi, Woo-il was fascinating. As a character in his own right, he bored me. As a seemingly confident man secretly wracked by insecurity I suppose he was relateable, but he always lacked the courage to act for himself and continue forward in spite of doubts, and that frustrated me. He was extremely charismatic, well respected and played consistently to other’s expectations. In turn he was very manipulative of his friend, using Hwan-Gi for his own needs and ignoring what might be right. This hurt him, though, and he began his journey to freedom halfway through the show.

Best Character Moments

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Philosophy

I saw so many amazing places this drama could have gone. I first picked up on a potential thread while studying Confucian relationships: as vertical as they are and as prominent as they were/are for Asian culture, I wondered how they played into this drama. Hwan-Gi and Woo-Il especially intrigued me: as such close friends, would they stand on a level playing field, or would the last Confucian relationship (senior to junior friend) complicate things?

I decided for my own sake that it would. Who, then, was the senior and junior friend? My first brain-instinct said Woo-Il of course: he was the one people listened to, he was the one directing and manipulating people to his will. It seemed hard to say no to him, especially when he played the victim.

It was that very phrase, “when he played the victim”, that changed my mind. Woo-Il for all his charisma was very insecure, and always looked to Hwan-Gi for validation. He needed to be needed, desperately. And if he felt insecure then he would play up what he had done. Hwan-Gi, on the other hand, while debilitatingly scared of other people, was never unsure of himself as a person or his ideas. He knew what he believed and it grated at him to go against that. I only wish the show had continued to explore the coplay between these two extremes, perhaps negotiating them to a better middle ground.

The other philosophy I wish had better represented itself was more of a character development. Like I mentioned about I was fascinated by Yi-Soo, Hwan-Gi’s sister. Many people skimmed over her as an annoyance at best and a messed up, ridiculous lead at worst–both descriptions that tore at my heart. She was an opportunity, I thought, for the show to very delicately address a real, sensitive issue: self harm and mental illness.

I’ve had friends who struggled with this, and I only wish the show had paid Yi-Soo more attention–especially as her part in the central tragedy was so large. It was more than a tragedy to me that it was resolved so quickly, with so little exposition on her part to really connect with the audience her pain, her struggle and her eventual seeming recovery. It seemed backwards to everything healthy for her to end up with Woo-Il.

Best Philosophy Moments

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At it’s best, Introverted Boss shined with it’s quirky humor and characters–at it’s worst it was draggy and unforgivably undeveloped. I captured some amazing screenshots, fast-forwarded a lot, and sighed when I got to the end. If you want to start some thoughts but never finish them, this may be the show for you.

Final Verdict: 4/10

Best Photo

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This photo embodies in the best way the best part of this show: Hwan-gi, not highlighted like most people would prefer but backlit, so that he draws attention to himself not by being there, but being not there.

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